What Are Mediation Services?
Mediation Involves the Process of Assisting Parties Within a Conflict to Resolve the Issues In Dispute In a Respectful Manner With An Aim to Establishing a Negotiated Agreement.
Mediation Services Are An Alternative Way to Resolve Disputes
Mediation is a voluntary process that involves a mediator as a neutral third party who objectively assists the parties in discussions aimed towards resolultion of the issues in dispute.
Mediation involves the parties to a dispute engaging in good faith discussion with a focus on establishing an acceptable solution; whether the dispute is a struggle to see eye-to-eye between family members, a dispute wit neighbours, a dispute with an employer, or the dispute between litigants within a legal case.
The mediator is uninvolved in decision-making and any decisions or agreements made are merely aided by the mediator. The mediator simply assists the parties to communicate effectively and respectfully; and albeit, a simple goal, the process of enabling disputing parties to communicate in an affective and respectful is a sophisticated, intellectual, process.
Mediation as Substitute to Litigation
The meditation process, unlike the litigative process for legal disputes, is flexible and may be set out and structured by the parties. Furthermore, the cost of mediation may be considerably less than the cost of litigation.
Finalizing a Resolution
In addition to the mediator helping the parties to resolve the dispute, the mediator is also able to assist the parties to craft a resolution agreement that then becomes a legally binding and enforceable contract.
During negotiations within the mediation session, it is possible, perhaps even likely, that the mediator or the parties will prefer and decide to discuss offers independently. At any time, the parties may choose to meet separately with the mediator in a process known as a caucus.
The mediator is required to keep discussions that are held independently within a caucus confidential without disclosure to the other party; and accordingly, the mediator will refrain from sharing those details unless specifically permitted and directed to do so by the party to whom the duty of confidence is owed.
What Happens When the Parties Find a Solution?
When the mediation session results in a solution to resolve the dispute, the mediator assists the parties in drafting a settlement agreement. The settlement agreement formulates a binding and enforceable contract; and accordingly, before agreeing and signing the settlement agreement, the terms must be viewed as satisfactory to all parties involved. Generally, the mediator will require the parties to obtain independent legal advice prior to signing the settlement agreement and the settlement agreement will include a condition stating that the parties did, or did have the opportunity to, receive independent legal advice.